Back To Work? Navigating a Gap in Employment

Returning to work after having been out of the workforce for a period of time can be daunting. Whether it’s been due to taking time off to care for children, elderly parents, an extended illness, or perhaps the job search has taken longer than expected, gaps in employment will trigger questions that employers will want answered.

“Please explain the gap in your resume.”

Why does an employer care if you’ve had a gap in your resume? Naturally, the employer is desiring to find the person that can fulfill their needs, while also tapping into what the candidate can do best. They are looking for the safest and best choice to fill an open role.

So, let’s start with just that! A human being in an organization is looking for another human being to help them get a job done. It’s that simple! What I’ve found over the years is that candidates oftentimes bring in fears to their situation that can be mitigated rather easily. The most difficult challenge is with the candidate being confident in their own abilities to apply into the open position description.

Be Confident

Scripture tells us in Psalm 34:4-5, “I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”

Those verses address the first area I’d encourage job seekers who are re-entering the workforce: Be confident! Claim God’s many promises of provision. Remember the milestones in your life where He has delivered. Remember the many accomplishments you’ve had in the workforce. The experiences He has given you that can be of use in the current job you’re seeking. An employer isn’t looking for a reason to turn you away…they’re actually hoping that you can be the candidate to do the job! Be confident with your concise explanation on the reason for your employment gap and quickly move into why you can be the right person for the job!

Don’t Go It Alone

A fundamental principle in maintaining your sanity (let alone the significant dose of optimism that you’ll need) through any job search: Don’t go it alone! A Biblical principle I’ve relied on throughout my career is found in Ecclesiastes 4:12, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” God created us to be in community, and a job transition is no exception. In fact, I’d submit it’s even more important to get encouragement and support when navigating through a process that daily challenges your knowledge, skills, and self-esteem.

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

Don’t sell yourself short! God made you as a unique individual; no one else on the planet is who you are in God’s eyes. That’s how you ought to present yourself to future employers. BUT, if you’re not able to view yourself (let alone sell yourself) as the unique, gifted individual that you are, then an employer won’t see that either. Employers are trying to go as fast as they can to fill open positions, and they don’t have time to spend helping you discover all your gifting, skills, and abilities. You’ll need to be prepared to do that, and to do it quickly, when you’re given the opportunity to present yourself. Taking the time beforehand to see how all of you adds up to your “unique distinctions” is a process, but well worth your time.

Let Crossroads Career Help You

As with many job transition strategies, they are usually simple…but not that easy. Crossroads Career is here to support you in many ways with what I’ve outlined above. From free career consultation, small groups, podcasts, workbooks, webinars, and other blogs, we want to help you hear God calling, maximize your potential, and get the right job!

I’d also encourage you to spend a few minutes scoping out all the resources available on our website, including our prayer network. Having others lift up your needs is the most powerful strategy we can all employ.


Dave Sparkman currently serves as the volunteer Crossroads Career board chair and local ministry leader. He is also the founder and managing director of Spark Your Culture, a corporate culture consulting firm. Prior to that he worked at UnitedHealth Group, a Fortune #5 public company, serving in the role of Chief Culture Officer. His unemployment experience came from the implosion of Arthur Andersen, where he served as the West Region Managing Partner, People.

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